Hearings at the US Capitol: Why should Canadians care? Extremism, security experts say – National | Globalnews.ca

Bomb after bomb of shocking revelations continue to be unearthed for hearings on the United States Capitol insurrectionwhich will continue until July.

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From the evidence that the former president Donald Trump pressured lawmakers to overturn election results to testimony that he knew of the violence descending on Capitol Hill, the rabbit hole of American politics may make Canadians think their country is a long way from what happened on January 6.

The researchers disagree.

“We saw this in the United States, and now we’re seeing it in Canada: that people are losing faith in institutions, in our federal government, in our electoral system,” he said. Kayla PrestonPhD student researching extremism at the University of Toronto.

“That’s usually because misinformation is being spread online.”

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That misinformation, and in many cases disinformation, was key in the attack on Capitol Hill, Preston said, as rioters stormed the capitol echoing Trump’s words. unsubstantiated claim that the 2020 federal election result was stolen.

As Canadians followed the widely shared images and videos from that day, some saw their own country’s maple leaf being paraded during the riots.

According to 680news in 2021, the RCMP was not aware of any Canadians involved in the Capitol breach.

Apart from the Possible Proud Boys connection to the event, which was founded by Canadian Gavin McInnes, researchers say there is more evidence to suggest Canada’s ties to anti-democratic movements like the Insurrection run deep. The public is not immune to the same misinformation that was present during the riots, they say.

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“These kinds of uprisings are possible in Canada,” Preston said.

Furthermore, the professor of political studies tim abray says the events of January 6 and the results of the hearings are “absolutely affecting Canadian democracy.”

If pro-Trump politicians are seen to be able to get away with “lying” to the public about the election result, those working on the ground in Canada may take note.

“Political strategists are routinely hired in the United States to help Canadian political parties,” said the Queen’s University doctoral candidate.

“If a strategy seems to be successful in one place, it will be applied in other places.”

The United States cannot be blamed alone for the hate and anti-democratic movements in Canada. Many, Preston said, were born and raised here, remaining “alive and well” for quite some time.

However, the influence of the United States in our nation is undeniable and difficult to ignore, said the professor from the University of Victoria. Will Greaves.

“There are groups in Canada, typically right-wing populist groups, that look at the kinds of activities that similar groups in the United States have engaged in, and see a role model for themselves in that,” said assistant professor of relations internationals told Global over Zoom.

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“They consciously understand a number of tactics that are employed in the United States, which to one degree or another, they are interested in importing into the Canadian context.”

That means Canada’s national security is at risk from those groups, he said.. But it also means that how the United States decides to hold accountable those involved in the insurrection will go a long way towards reflecting on the future confidence Canada will have in its long-term ally.

“As the smallest and weakest partner in the North American relationship, Canada requires a strong and democratic United States… [The hearings] It will give us an indicator of the health of American democracy after a very difficult number of years,” Greaves said.

In early 2022, some of the organizers of the trucker convoy that occupied Ottawa and border towns like Windsor said they wanted to see parliament dissolved.

While the occupation did not have the scale of violence seen during the Capitol invasion, Preston said, “we can’t just ignore that that happened.”

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Some of the organizers had backgrounds of white nationalism and racism.

But Greaves says strong connections can also be made between the convoy and capitol rioters because of the “unconstitutional, illegal, inappropriate” tactics both used. That includes blocking border crossings between Canada and the US from the convoy of truckers.

In March, the University of Ottawa assembled a working group of security and intelligence experts, including four people who previously served as national security advisers to the prime minister.

Two months later, the task force wrote a report exposing Canada as “ill-prepared for the world’s changing security environment”.

The 39-page document makes no mention of the Capitol insurrection.

However, he did reference the 2022 trucker protests in Canada. The move was an example of “democracy under siege,” the report said, calling it an emerging threat to Canada’s national security as polarization and misinformation fuel uprisings.

After the convoy, it quickly became clear that there were links between far-right extremists in Canada and the United States, the report cites.

He went on to say that “a polarized United States has become a less predictable partner in recent years” and recommended addressing Canadians’ mistrust of government as one of four avenues that would help fill “obvious gaps” in the strategy. Canada’s national security.

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At Western University in London, Ontario, an expert in international security and foreign and defense policy echoes the report’s recommendations for the nation to remain vigilant.

NATO Associate Professor and Researcher Erika Simpson However, he still doesn’t think an uprising on the scale of the Capitol riot is going to happen in Canada any time soon, even from those with ties to the convoys.

“There were a lot of lessons learned in the winter from the trucker convoy. I think the police service in Ottawa and the smaller border patrols in Emerson and in Windsor have realized a lot,” he said.

“I am very convinced that people who believe in a rules-based world order will defeat this extremism in the United States. I think the rule of law will come to the fore. ”

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But Simpson says Canada needs to start “multitasking” quickly, which means keeping an eye out for nascent extremist movements while also addressing other pressing security threats, such as Russia’s nuclear intimidation.

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It all boils down to Canada reviewing its national security policy, Simpson said, which hasn’t been updated since 2004, according to the uOttawa task force.

That commission is long overdue, according to Greaves, as disinformation is just one of many new obstacles facing the country.

“We need to know if the money we’re spending aligns with the goals we’ve set for ourselves… the discussion of what we really should prioritize going forward is the kind of thing a review would reveal. ”

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